Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect David Montgomery, RB of Iowa State. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
David Montgomery is a high character player, one who plays with extreme effort at all times and has shown the durability to be a bell cow at the next level. He’s not the perfect prospect, but he’s a player with one elite trait and an overall well-rounded game.
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Statistics via sports-reference.com.
Montgomery’s background is fascinating, and this thread from Kyle Francis is a terrific look at how Montgomery has gotten to where he is today. He was a dual-threat quarterback in high school and worked tremendously hard to transition to running back full time, but didn’t see much time at the position during his freshman season until later in the year. Despite this, he showed enough promise as a rusher and receiver to surpass Mike Warren, the incumbent starter, to become the lead back in 2017.
Montgomery really took the country by storm in 2017, rushing 258 times for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns, adding another 36 receptions for 296 yards. His 4.4 yards per carry are sub-par, but the situation he dealt with requires some serious context. His offensive line was a serious detriment to his success – not a single one of his linemen ranked among the top 114 run blockers in the country, per PFF. He averaged 3.5 yards after contact per carry, indicating that he was consistently getting no room to run. He was able to create for himself by forcing 109 missed tackles per PFF, which is the most they’ve recorded since they began tracking in 2014.
His 2018 season was much of the same. Montgomery rushed 257 times for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 157 yards. His blocking was again poor — per Expand The Boxscore, half of his carries in 2018 went for three yards or fewer — but Montgomery was able to force another 99 missed tackles this year (per PFF). This elusiveness will translate to the next level.
David Montgomery hasn't run behind a run-blocking unit that has graded in the top 100 (!!) in the nation over the past two seasons – meaning he's done the majority of his rushing totals all on his own.https://t.co/RtcyShaBUz pic.twitter.com/lhlCdKk5e7
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 12, 2018
He also has no ball security concerns. Montgomery has three fumbles in his collegiate career (on 697 total touches) and no more than one in any single season.
Often times, running back highlight tapes are littered with long touchdown runs through wide open holes. Unfortunately, you won’t find much (if any) of that on Montgomery’s tape, but his highlights are impressive for other reasons.
The first thing you see when watching Montgomery is his otherworldly balance through contact. This is a truly elite trait. He is incredibly hard to tackle, a bowling ball running with a low center of gravity and absorbing hits with his stout frame.
— Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) October 21, 2017
He has nimble footwork for a back his size and is able to cut fluidly, causing defenders to have trouble squaring him up. However, although he cuts well, he is not an explosive back and has trouble accelerating back to full speed out of his cuts due to his limited burst.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 19, 2019
Montgomery is an asset in the passing game. He has experience running routes out of the backfield, from the slot, and split out wide and runs more than a basic route tree. While Montgomery isn’t a matchup problem due to his athleticism like some running backs, he is a good route runner with soft hands. He is also an asset as a pass protector. Montgomery uses his frame well when absorbing contact from pass rushers and has the football intelligence to identify and process where the rush is coming from. This is incredibly important, as it ensures his potential to stay on the field in all situations.
His game translates to the NFL level. However, as mentioned above, his athleticism is below average, although this does not disqualify him from being a successful running back at the next level. He has trouble breaking big plays because he doesn’t run away from anyone — just three percent of his plays this year went for 20 or more yards — but he is a grinder with above-average agility that consistently turns minor gains into bigger ones. Speaking of being a grinder, he averaged 5.8 yards per touch in the fourth quarter of games this year, an output higher than any other quarter and accounting for over 30 percent of his total yardage.
His vision isn’t one of his strengths, but some of his issues were exasperated by the poor quality of Iowa State’s offensive line. Montgomery can occasionally press his lanes too quickly, while conversely is sometimes late to read or anticipate developing gaps. However, he frequently finds cutback lanes and uses his footwork to create for himself.
Montgomery’s MockDraftable spider graph is relatively pedestrian, which is to be expected. At 5’10” and 222 pounds, he has feature back size. None of his measurables really stand out in any area, although his arm length and wingspan are above average, which shows up on tape. He loves throwing stiff arms to create space for himself and utilizes his arms well as a pass protector and pass catcher.
One testing number is alarming – his vertical jump landed in the first percentile of all running backs. Explosion isn’t his calling card, but his broad jump was above average, which is confusing. Montgomery ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, which aligns with his tape. He opted out of the agility drills at the combine, which is disappointing but not entirely surprising.
Montgomery was considered the top running back in this year’s class coming into the season by most and did little to dissuade those that liked him, although other players (like Josh Jacobs, Darrell Henderson, and Miles Sanders) have since ascended.
Montgomery was the seventh player off the board across the ten DLF March Rookie ADP mocks, with no drafter selecting him higher than fourth or lower than tenth. He was the second running back taken, behind Josh Jacobs. DLF’s rookie rankings also have Montgomery listed as the seventh player overall and second running back, just behind Jacobs.
Startup ADP places Montgomery as the 62nd player (and sixth rookie) overall, behind N’Keal Harry, DK Metcalf, Hakeem Butler, Josh Jacobs, and AJ Brown. This means, on average, Montgomery is available in the sixth round of startup mocks. Unlike some of the wide receivers in this class, who I believe will continue to appreciate in value, Montgomery’s value will be heavily reliant on the landing spot and role he finds.
Montgomery doesn’t require a creative play-caller to unlock his full potential; rather, he simply needs a team to commit to utilizing his entire skill set. The earlier he gets drafted, the better chances this has at occurring.
I am a fan of David Montgomery’s game and believe his traits translate to the NFL level. Unfortunately, like most other running backs, his dynasty value will be tied to his landing spot.
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